Endless Horizons – Four Tier System

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Warren Buffett

In my previous article, I promised you a new trading system. While it’s still in the testing phase, I feel that it’s developed enough for me to publicly present.  I’m not saying this is going to turn you into the Warren Buffett of your local shop, but with a bit of work and minor tweaks to it, I think it could be used to generate a larger trading base, and a stable flow of cards.

The 4 Tier Trading System is a rather large project, which uses four folders and requiring you to constantly update your stock based on activity for cards over the past week. It has potential to create an attractive market for yourself and those you trade with. If anyone wants to undertake this project with me, please let me know since more research and results are always a good thing.

Tier 1/Folder 1: High value, low volume. It contains any rares $10 or more, and all mythics that have proven themselves as usable, above $5, or those with a high opportunity to rise.  Due to the nature of this folder, it will be a low volume folder, and has the highest profit potential.

Tier 2/Folder 2: Low value, High volume. Any proven commons will be included in here such as Lightning Bolt, and Mana Leak. Uncommons that have been proven, and have a demand for them will also be included. Good candidates for this would be Condemn, Everflowing Chalice, Pyroclasm, and Contagion Clasp. Any rares that carry a value between $1 and $9.99 are also included, and all mythics not in the Tier 1 folder also reside here.

Tier 3/Folder 3: Medium volume, medium value. This folder is for all of your MPR cards, foils, promos, FNM, altered art, misprint or anything else that distinguishes them from the rest. The value in this folder can vary by wide margins, from .10 cent foil commons to your foil Koth of the Hammer. Because this folder is full of promos and other specialty cards, you can make large profit margins trading to the right people through this folder.

Tier 4 folder staple

Tier 4/Folder 4: This is the folder that will generate your repeat business, and I call it the freebie folder. All rares not in Tiers 1 and 2 fall here, as well as many uncommons that see local/casual demand, but nothing worth separating them for. Mind Control is a great example. This folder is used ONLY FOR REPUTATION BUILDING. NOT FOR TRADING OUT OF. It’s a sort of “Thank you” system, used to give your trading partner something of their own choice just for completing a trade. Don’t even mention it until the deal is done. While not everyone will take anything, most newer players, EDH players, and casual players will find something in it, letting them walk away happy. If you’re trading with someone and they find something in here, but not in the other Tiers, just give it to them, within reason of course. Remember we had discussed public relations here in my second article? Well this is one of those tools that can really provide a boost to your public image.

Working with the idea of the fourth tier folder, I have some general ways I use it based on the trade. For every incoming mythic, I give away 1 card. I also give away 1 card for every 5 rares that I traded for, giving them at minimum 1 card. If that sees your freebie folder emptying out quickly, you can switch to a dollar value system. For every 5-10 dollars of incoming value, give away 1 card. However, if your freebie folder is emptying quickly then you’re doing it right.

I’m sure many of you have already seen how the fourth tier can be used to create bigger deals of incoming value and number of cards for you. People love free stuff, and when they find out that trading with you gets them free stuff, they will be much more interested in creating and completing deals. This is also a marketing tool that will, given time, speak for itself. This also has a huge potential for abuse, and while I can’t control how you use this, I can give you this piece of advice.

Do well, or do good?

“Before you can do well, you must first do good”

While it’s backwards to the traditional way of thinking in the business world, in the Magic trading world, you first have to do good. Good for your market, community, self, and store. This will build your reputation and through that, you will then do well, as in making a ton of profits while maintaining a positive image.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the concepts from my previous article that I didn’t go over when talking about marketing, the five ideas outside of the “four P’s”; Economy, Law, Technology, Competition, and Culture.

Economy: This is the one that we care about the most. A stable and flowing economy provides the biggest opportunity to make profits. If the same cards are circulating through the shop you attend weekly, your market is stagnant. Read my first article and use that to fix it.

Law: There really is no law when it comes to trading cards. You can’t go to jail for insider trading, you can’t be charged taxes on your “profits”. It’s basically the Wild West out there, and everyone just adheres to a commonly accepted code of conduct.

Technology: Except it’s the Wild West with lasers and robots. Almost everyone has a phone they can use to check prices on hand, and sites like this one are out there for people to read. Use this to your advantage, sign up for Twitter and follow the writers and other financial minds. It’s up to you to figure them out, but do some research of your own. It’s far more rewarding that way.

Competition: I went over this section last week. Competition is healthy, and promotes a better market all around.

Culture: This is one that a lot of people forget about when it comes to trading. There is still the human aspect involved with it and a culture aspect as well. Understand this, and you stand to do both good, and well.

That’s all for this week, I will be switching from a bi-weekly column to a weekly column starting next week. There are tons of great things coming up for, and I hope you’re all around to be a part of them.

Until next week,

Stephen Moss

MTGstephenmoss on twitter

Stephen Moss

Stephen Moss currently lives in Lancaster, CA, is a usual PTQ grinder in the southwest region and working on his Masters in Business Administration. He has an obsession with playing League of Legends when not working on articles or school work. His articles often take on a business minded tone, and usually contain information applicable to magic trading as well as real world business.

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10 thoughts on “Endless Horizons – Four Tier System

  1. Awesome article moss, that was truly an awesome idea. I think I'm going to go ahead and try something like this. I don't have nearly the collection you do as of yet, Nor 4 binders! but i've been constantly giving away foils or cards i would never use (or any competitive player) in some trades with kids i knew where starting off, but this is a even more creative and awesome system to build up a fantastic reputation. really enjoyed it gj


    1. Corbin,

      Thanks! Yeah, the folder thing can be an issue. I usually use a backpack, or bring things out of my car based on what they want to see. One thing you can do is break it down further, and have a single copy of a card in a folder, and the extras in a properly labeled box. This would reduce the weight of the folders.

  2. First off, I LOVE your articles and quietspeculatiion as a whole ;).

    I've actually been using a 2-tier binder system for 2-3 years already and I have had nothing but success! Granted, it's not the 4 tier system, but it's pretty easy…

    I use binder #1 as my "low value" traders, and typically give that out if I'm trading for a lower value card, or trying to trade up into a higher value card. My mission is always to try and trade cards from binder #1, and put those cards into binder #2. I normally give AMAZING deals out of binder 1 because I'm not attached to the cards, they're fairly worthless, and the good deals I give from binder 1 keep people coming back to trade with me.

    Binder #2 I only give out if there is something I want that can not be aquired through trading cards from binder 1. Often if my trading partner is not willing to trade for something out of binder #1 for the cards I'm after, unless I value the card higher than some of the stuff in binder 2, I won't even show it. Yea, you have the potential to "pass up a trade" this way, but it saves you the time of waiting for their offer of the 3-4 bulk rares you were after for your Baneslayer :S.

    Touching on that point above: I found that when I had ALL of my cards in one binder, people seemed to have blinders on. They would see a couple smaller cards they needed, but then see a Jace and suddenly it's "OMG I need to trade for that Jace!" and all the potential you had to trade your smaller cards goes out the window because now they are only interested in uptrading.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your ideas!
    Carl Szalich

    1. Carl,

      Thank you for the comment! Great to know that people appreciate the work we do here. Feedback good or bad means more to us writers than many know.

      I have also used the two tier system, and I fully agree, it works well for its purpose. I decided to break it down just a little more, basically adding a folder just for foils and promos, and then adding in a PR tool to the end of it, mostly because I was constantly asked for the kinda of cards that go into the tier 4 folder and never had them on hand, and because I found that the promo and foil cards sat there awkwardly, never really belonging anywhere. This would cause foil hunters to sift through cards they had no interest in, and by separating them I created a folder that I could hand just to the EDH and cube people, as we all know they love to pimp out their decks and cubes.

  3. I agree with Carl, I have had multiple binders for the last couple years and it makes trading so much easier. You guys talk about building your brand and if people like you, they will find something of yours that they can pull out so you can get what you want. Limiting those options increases your control. I have had people come back and say "How come I didn't get to see the little binder" to which I answer "I'm sorry, that is the stuff I am trying to hold on to for decks. You can take a look at it if you want but I value this stuff pretty high". This works two-fold: you don't burn the bridge and if they do find something in the little binder (they always do) they are already expecting to trade in your favor..

    I love the freebies, dead cards in a binder that make someone else happy. That Titanic Ultimatum may come back as a Noble Hierarch for almost nothing, it is amazing.

    Great site, I got on MTGO on your suggestions; I'm currently drowning but it is fun 🙂

  4. Hey! I love the article and it really hits home. I have recently moved from Michigan to the Daytona Beach area of Florida for a new job. Everything in my collection has gone with me! The shop here in Daytona is much larger than what I am used to and frankly it's nuts around there! There's 38+ people to an FNM on Friday nights and the Pre-release tourney's there are held 2-3 days! I am definitely going to use this method for the new way of trading there. There's alot to be gained and a solid reputation to build!

    Safe Haven Collectibles

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